Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Review: Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown

SUMMARY: Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art -- until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.
Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all -- with enough distance, maybe she'll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past.
With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.


This book is stunning and bold, with the emotional depth and soft flair that all of Brown’s books have. Having far more to it than just a sibling with OCD, Perfect Escape beautifully ties in a sibling relationship with coming of age and just trying to figure everything out. There are some breaking scenes in this book, but plenty of fun and sweet ones as well, with a vivid realism to it that will keep readers completely hooked.

Kendra is a phenomenally done character, someone who seems to have everything together yet has plenty of faults hidden underneath. With a painful drive to be perfect and a skewed view of her family, she has made some mistakes before the book even opens that propels her throughout. Struggling with her brother’s disability, yet loving him so completely, there an authentic note to her character that shines. Caught up on some things from the past, and terrified at least for awhile to move forward, Kendra is a very relatable character with a strong drive and motivation behind her.

Grayson is an equally stunning character, painful to read about and watch. Though a genius, he is hindered in most every way by the compulsions that lock him in, rendering him useless in a lot of ways. Both stuck on numbers/counting, with a germophobic element as well, it is easy to see not only how frustrating the disability is for him but for those around him too. Determined in all the ways that truly matter, despite his seeming inability to just ignore the compulsions, Grayson is a great guy and an even greater brother. Adding poignancy and realism to his character is the fact that plenty of times, both through Kendra’s eyes and those of the people they interact with, Grayson is viewed as less than everyone else, and unable to understand, simply because of his compulsions. Far from that, he is perceptive, intelligent, and has plenty of emotions and empathy underlying it. This makes for some gutting scenes, but also some beautiful ones, with a smack in the face kind of realization about him.

With a strong driving force behind the plot and pacing, and enticing characters, Perfect Escape is hard to put down and even harder to forget. Tying in multiple notable elements, from a fear of what’s to come to just trying to love someone as they are without expecting more from them, Brown seamlessly weaves together each little nuance in the most perfect of ways. I fell in love with both Grayson and Kendra as the book progressed, seeing the faults in both of them but also the ways they figure out how to help each other. Coming from a family that loves them very much, yet still has it’s issues that seem largely due to Grayson but not entirely, there is a wrenching dissonance between doing something for yourself and doing it for others in this one. Beautifully written with a strong voice, a great blend of humor and pain, and a fitting and comfortable ending, Perfect Escape is daring, captivating, and a complete must read.

Source: Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading Level: Young Adult  
Hardcover: 368 pages 
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 10, 2012


  1. I am so excited for this book! I absolutely adore Jennifer Brown and her books always seem to blow me away. Great review!

  2. Wow! Thank you for such a wonderful review! I'm so happy you enjoyed the story. These two characters are near and dear to my heart, so I'm especially happy that you fell in love with them. Thank you!

  3. Sounds awesome, and I'll definitely be checking this one out. I'm usually leery of books featuring any sort of mental disability/difference as a prominent plot element, but it sounds like Brown might have something worthwhile to say.